Matthew Heineman’s City of Ghosts took home the top prize in documentary filmmaking at the 70th annual Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards.
Held Saturday night (Feb. 3) at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, Heineman was honored with the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary. This was his second DGA Award nomination, having previously won in 2015 for Cartel Land.
City of Ghosts (pictured) follows the journey of “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” (RBSS) – a handful of anonymous activists and unwitting journalists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014.
The 91-minute film made its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival where it took the Candescent Award, and has since won the Grand Jury Prize at Sheffield Doc/Fest; The Fritz Gerlich Prize in Munich; the Politikens Audience Award at CPH:DOX in Copenhagen; the Courage Under Fire Award at the IDA Documentary Awards; and was listed in the Unforgettables category at this year’s Cinema Eye Honors Awards.
City of Ghosts bested the likes of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s PBS docuseries The Vietnam War, Steve James’ PBS feature-length documentary ABACUS: Small Enough To Jail, Bryan Fogel’s Netflix Olympic doping doc Icarus,and ErrolMorris‘ Netflix documentary-scripted hybrid Wormwood.
Meanwhile, the winner for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Reality Programs was Brian Smith for “Vegas Deluxe & Oyster Shucks” of Fox’s MasterChef.
The win comes on the heels of Smith’s fifth DGA Award nomination, having been previously nominated for episodes of MasterChef from 2010-2013, and in 2016 for S.T.R.O.N.G. He previously won in this category for 2012′s MasterChef episode “Episode #305″.
Smith’s directorial team consists of associate director Anna Moulaison and stage managers Drew Lewandowski and Brady Hess.
The reality series took the prize ahead of ABC’s Encore!, A&E’s Live PD, MTV’s Chainsmokers, and NBC’s Spartan: The Ultimate Team Challenge.